As I approach the end of my first month here, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that have made my life so much easier. Since a lot of these are considered “common knowledge,” no one ever really comes right out and tells you all these things — so here I am, breaking the cycle.

  • Download the Rutgers app. It includes so many useful resources, including the bus schedule, dining hall menus, and places around campus (i.e., you can look up the Douglass Student Center, and it’ll give you the street address, nearby bus stops, the Google Maps view, and some bonus background information).
    • You can also get the NextBus app, which tends to have more accurate predictions; if you’re really committed (pun intended), you might even consider paying $0.99 for the R U There Yet? app, which incorporates bus routes, predicted times, and directions to get from one stop to the next.
  • Overestimate how long it’ll take you to get places. Even disregarding the issue of getting on the bus (which is part luck, part timing, and part choosing your stops strategically), you’ll most likely get lost more than a few times. The aforementioned apps help, of course, but they’re not foolproof.
  • Plan out your whole week ahead of time. Beyond knowing when and where you have class, it really helps to figure out when you’ll be doing homework and what other commitments you have. Google Calendar is a great tool for this; most people I know also keep a planner or digital to-do list.
    • Also, sometimes you’ll have to bail on events you really wanted to attend or friends you really wanted to hang out with. It sucks, but it does happen.
  • Digital textbooks are your friends. They tend to be the cheapest to get your hands on, and you can store them all on one device in lieu of toting around multiple textbooks. (If you know you study better with printed textbooks, by all means do what works for you! It’s just something to consider.)
  • Make meal swipes your go-to. Especially if you’re living on College Ave and/or have friends with cars on campus, it’s really tempting to eat out instead of at the dining halls. Since you (or your parents) already paid for this food, though, try not to waste it. Plus, several other places take meal swipes (Kilmer’s Market and Henry’s Diner on Livi; the Starbucks truck; etc.), so you do still have options.
  • Figure out where the water fountains/refill stations are in your dorm. And carry around a water bottle so you can use them.
  • Keep your keys and RU ID together. This one might be a little debatable if you tend to lose your things, but these are arguably the two most important things you’ll carry around. You’ll want easy access, at least to your ID, but not so easy that you’ll drop it on the bus or in a lecture hall.
  • Find multiple places to study. For on-campus residents, of course, the dorm is the most obvious one (particularly for those with access to the Honors College seminar rooms!). But it’s been shown scientifically that studying in multiple places (including the room where you’ll be taking the test, if possible) aids information retention, so. Study smarter, not harder.
  • Use your resources. It should go without saying that you should ask first, but you can probably borrow your roommate’s cleaning supplies or your RA’s scissors. This can apply to food as well.
  • Keep an open mind. Even if you grew up in New Jersey, you’re probably going to exposed to a lot of new experiences; there’s a reason Rutgers prides itself on its culture of diversity and inclusion. You don’t have to completely discard all your previously held beliefs and biases, but you should definitely be aware of them.